2014 Carbon Inventory Report

Montgomery County Community College’s 2014 Carbon Inventory Report is now available.

Each January, the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) requires participating institutions to submit an inventory of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their campuses. The College submitted its 2014 report on Jan. 2, 2015.

To assist with the inventory, the College uses Campus Carbon Calculator, developed by Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP) and now operated by the University of New Hampshire and Sightlines. All emissions are recorded in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCOE).

GHG emissions are divided into three scopes. Scope 1 includes natural gas, college vehicles and agriculture; scope 2 is electricity; and scope 3 is students, faculty and staff commuter emissions, air travel and solid waste.

In 2013-2014, the College’s scope 1 emissions increased by 2,162 Mcf (1 Mcf = 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas) over the previous year. The increase was due, in part, to a colder average winter temperature of 34 degrees, in addition to the Culinary Arts Institute coming fully online. 1,168 Mcf were attributed to the CAI.

Note: 1 Mcf = 1,000 cubic feet = 1 MMBtu (based on natural gas approximate heat value of 1,000 Btu per cubic foot)

Note: 1 Mcf = 1,000 cubic feet = 1 MMBtu (based on natural gas approximate heat value of 1,000 Btu per cubic foot)

The College’s scope 2 emissions dropped by 684,184 kWh (kilowatt-hour) over the previous year, despite the CAI coming fully online, which added 391,680 kWh. The decrease is a result of chiller plant optimization projects at Central and West campuses as part of MCCC’s Guaranteed Energy Services Agreement with Siemens Industry Inc. The College also offset 7,585 metric tons of CO2 by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) through its electricity supplier. Combined, scope 2 reduction efforts enabled the College to save $120,826 on its electric bill in 2013-2014.

Carbon Table 2 rev

As a commuter institution, transportation emissions, scope 3, significantly contribute to the College’s carbon footprint, despite a reduction of 1,263,862 total vehicle miles traveled in 2013-14, due, in part, to a slight overall decline in enrollment. However, these numbers do not reflect miles saved through transportation programs like the Campus Shuttle and Zimride.

Carbon Table 3 rev

The below chart summarizes all emissions calculations, which totaled 11,678 for 2014–the lowest total number since the College began calculating GHG emissions in 2007.

Carbon Table 4 rev

~ by Alana J. Mauger and Charlie Scandone

Making an ‘Environmental Impact’ in Pottstown

by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor

Four, 25-foot wind turbines now stand outside of Montgomery County Community College’s Schuylkill Riverfront Academic & Heritage Center. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Four, 25-foot wind turbines now stand outside of Montgomery County Community College’s Schuylkill Riverfront Academic & Heritage Center. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College earned the 2014 Environmental Impact Award for its “green” approach to business during the Tri County Area Chamber of Commerce economic development luncheon last month.

According to the Chamber, the award is presented to businesses that are taking a “green” proactive approach for a more sustainable business environment. Montgomery County Community College is the fourth environmental award recipient since 2009.

Guided by a Climate Commitment Action Plan and Advisory Council, the College is working toward the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050—a pledge made in 2007 as a charter signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Areas of focus include education, transportation, energy, facilities and overall best practices.

While many of the College’s sustainability initiatives are implemented across all locations, the  West Campus in Pottstown boasts several unique—and visible—green elements, namely wind turbines and a green roof.

In April, the College installed four 25-foot vertical axis wind turbines outside its Schuylkill Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center at 140 College Drive, adjacent to Riverfront Park and the Schuylkill River. Each turbine produces 1,000 watts of energy, for a combined 4,000 watts—enough energy to power the parking lot LED lighting. More importantly, the turbines are providing real world teaching and learning opportunities for students and faculty around alternative energy.

The wind turbines at West Campus, along with solar panels at the College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, are part of a Guaranteed Energy Services Agreement with Siemens Industry Inc. Collectively, through a broad series of self-funded energy conservation projects, MCCC will see 19 percent energy savings—and more than $6 million in cost savings—over the next 15 years.

Green roof foliage sample. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

Green roof foliage sample. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

The Schuylkill Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center also features the College’s first and only green roof. Installed in 2011, the roof features 13 different varieties of plants that were selected specifically for their growth, strength, and absorptions properties.

The plants help to reduce the amount of rainwater that goes into the storm system, thus protecting the surrounding waterways from excessive runoff. When saturated the plants absorb CO2 and release oxygen, thus helping the College advance toward its goal of carbon neutrality.

Schuylkill Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center green roof. Photo by Matt Cadwalader

Schuylkill Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center green roof. Photo by Matt Cadwalader

In addition to the wind turbines and green roof, West Campus sustainability highlights include two 240-volt electric vehicle charging stations in partnership with ECOtality, a recognized leader in the research and development of advanced energy systems specializing in alternative fuel campuses; a Segway program for Public Safety officers; and an increased emphasis on bicycle accessibility.

Montgomery Earns National Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature

BLOG Second Nature Award

by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor

Montgomery County Community College is among six institutions in the country to receive the 2014 Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature—a national non-profit organization that works to create a healthy just, and sustainable society by transforming higher education.

For the past five years, Climate Leadership Awards have been presented annually to signatory institutions of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) that demonstrate innovative and advanced leadership in education for sustainability and climate mitigation and adaptation.

Montgomery County Community College is a two-time recipient of the award, having also been recognized as a Climate Leader in 2011.

“The commitment, enthusiasm, and leadership of this year’s Climate Leadership Awards winners are undoubtedly leading the way for higher education to address the urgency of climate crisis. These institutions’ innovative approaches and exemplary actions in the pursuit of sustainability, both on campus and in the community, are tremendously exciting, and further strengthen the progress made by the ACUPCC network,” said David Hales, president of Second Nature.

For the 2014 award, institutions were evaluated on a variety of criteria for climate leadership on campus, including student preparedness, climate innovation and creation of opportunities.

In the area of student preparedness, the College’s core curriculum shapes students’ experiences through 13 learning competencies, one of which is civic responsibility. To meet this competency, several faculty developed sustainability-focused courses in the disciplines of Economics, Geology and Geography, while others incorporate sustainability-themed projects into their existing courses, including Public Relations, Ceramics, and Composition, among others.

Students also benefit from community partners–including Wissahickon Growing Greener, Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area and Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association (GVF)—that help guide sustainability efforts as members of the College’s President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Council. The College’s student-led Environmental Club also forged a partnership with Pennypack Farm and Education Center, where students volunteer monthly while learning about community supported agriculture.”

In the area of climate innovation, the College piloted a four-tier Green Office Initiative in 2013 that encourages departments to adopt sustainable practices and purchase greener supplies in partnership with Office Depot. The six pilot offices reported an average 12 percent decrease in spending while moving to more sustainable supplies and practices. The initiative was brought to scale this spring and has earned awards from the Philadelphia Area Collegiate Cooperative (PACC) and Office Depot.

Montgomery also forged a partnership with Sustainable Waste Solutions to make the Culinary Arts Institute its first landfill-free facility. One hundred percent of the Institute’s trash, cooking grease and food trimmings is recycled or converted into organic agricultural compost or biofuel. To learn about this initiative, watch the College’s “Cooking Green Cuisine” video, produced by Alana J. Mauger and Matt Porter.

Transportation is another key area in which Montgomery excels in climate innovation. To compliment a 20-passenger transportation shuttle—introduced in 2010 to make the 30-mile trip between campuses several times daily—the College also partners with Zimride to facilitate a safe ridesharing program for students, faculty and staff. Combined, the two initiatives reduced vehicle use by almost one million miles and carbon emissions by an estimated 54,644 metric tons. This spring, the College implemented a new compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle that will further reduce carbon emissions by a projected 11 metric tons.

To support its transportation programs, the College opened a green lot in 2012, allowing drivers of electric, hybrid and high-efficiency vehicles, carpoolers, and shuttle riders to access prime parking at the Central Campus. Electric vehicle charging stations are also available at both Central and West campuses. Collectively, the College’s transportation initiatives earned Platinum-Level Sustainability Award from GVF for three consecutive years.

For the final award criteria, creating opportunities, Montgomery partnered with Siemens Inc. to implement a self-funded energy conservation project that will result in more than $6,000,000 (19 percent) in energy savings over 15 years. The project incorporates renewable energy sources from wind turbines at the West Campus and solar panels at the Central Campus, as well as other energy/cost-saving initiatives like transitioning to natural gas, retrofitting lighting, and upgrading HVAC and building automation systems.

To educate and influence the community at large, the College documents all of its work on the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) award-winning “Think Green” blog. The College also invites the community to participate in its annual Earth Week and Campus Sustainability Day activities. To learn more about the College’s sustainability efforts, visit mc3green.wordpress.com.

As a charter signatory of the ACUPCC, Montgomery pledged to neutralize its net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The ACUPCC network is made up of more than 680 colleges and universities, representing nearly 6.6 million students. To date, ACUPCC institutions have achieved a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since the initiative began in 2007. To learn more, visit presidentsclimatecommitment.org.

Students Learn About Alt Energy with Installation of Solar Panels

by Paul Goraczko, Think Green Correspondent 

In an effort to further its commitment to sustainability, Montgomery County Community College has installed 44 solar panels on its this spring at its Central Campus in Blue Bell.

The panels are installed 500 feet from the intersection of Morris Road and Route 202 at the ATC ‘green lot.’

Located next to the panels is a display that allows students, staff, faculty, and even community members to see how much energy each of the panels is generating in real-time.

Each solar panel produces 285 watts of energy for a combined 12,540 watts. To put that in perspective, the average light bulb produces about 120 watts. Thus, the panels can generate enough electricity to power 104 incandescent light bulbs.

Solar panels, mid-installation. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

Solar panels, mid-installation. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

The solar panels, however, are not the first green fixture of the ATC parking lot; the lot also features charging stations for students, staff, and faculty who drive electric cars.

Thomas Freitag, vice president for finance and administration at MCCC, said the solar panel installation is part of a larger $4 million project with Siemens Industry Inc.

In fact, the installation of the solar panels was fully funded through grant money and was done in collaboration with Siemens.

Not surprisingly, the project has the full support of the township.

Whitpain Township Engineer Jim Blanch said, “We’re happy to see [the College is] working at alternative energy methods. It’s exciting to see these proposals coming through.”

For Blanch and others in the township, sustainable technology is warmly welcomed.

“It’s nice to see new sustainable technology being used,” Blanch said.

“It’s a good example for students. Hopefully they’ll go on to study [similar technologies],” he added.

For Freitag, however, the project is part of a much bigger agenda by the school.

“We’re very excited,” he said. “It fits very nicely with our overall commitment to the environment. It fits with the theme we have put together with the green lot…and it tells a good story to students, visitors, and faculty and staff as well.”

While the panels won’t power major parts of facilities on campus, the demo project will provide real-life teaching and learning opportunities for students, faculty, and staff, while taking the College one step further in its role as a leader in the green movement. 

Learn about solar cells on How Stuff Works

Solar Panels Slated for October Installation

As part of its Guaranteed Energy Services Agreement with Siemens Industry Inc., Montgomery County Community College plans to install 44 solar panels near the Advanced Technology Center “Green Lot” at the Central Campus in Blue Bell.

Learn about solar cells on How Stuff Works

While the panels won’t power major parts of facilities on campus, the demo project will provide real-life teaching and learning opportunities students, faculty and staff, while helping the College further its commitment to sustainability.

Each solar panel will produce 285 watts of energy, for a combined 12,540 watts. (For perspective, most incandescent light bulbs produce between 30-150 watts.) Next to each panel is a display that will allow students and faculty to observe the actual amount of energy being generated in real-time.

Read more about the College’s solar plans in The Times Herald.

VIDEO: Apply to Park in the College’s ‘Green Lot’

Do you drive an electric or hybrid vehicle? Carpool? Drive a vehicle that gets 25 MPG or greater? Ride the Campus Shuttle? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may qualify to park in Montgomery County Community College’s Green Lot. The lot is located by the Advanced Technology Center as the Central Campus. Check out the video to learn more!

River of Revolutions Interpretive Center Opens in Pottstown

by Laura Catalano, Schuylkill River Heritage Area

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area celebrated the grand opening of the recently completed, interactive River of Revolutions Interpretive Center on Monday.

Developed as a visitor center for the Schuylkill River region, it includes colorful exhibits about regional history and provides information on tourist and recreational sites.

The grand opening ceremony was held in the Interpretive Center, which is located in the Schuylkill River Heritage Area offices, at 140 College Drive in Pottstown.  About 100 people attended, including speakers Congressman Jim Gerlach; PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources Deputy Secretary John Giordano; Montgomery County Community College President Karen Stout; Pottstown Mayor Bonnie Heath and Schuylkill River Heritage Area Executive Director Kurt Zwikl.

The River of Revolutions Interpretive Center was developed over a period of six years. It features interactive exhibits, family friendly displays and educational videos that highlight the significant role the region played through the American, Industrial and Environmental Revolutions.  Maps and brochures encourage visitors to seek out recreational and tourist opportunities throughout the five-county (Schuylkill, Berks, Montgomery, Chester and Philadelphia) Heritage Area.

“We are excited about opening this new Interpretive Center. It allows us to better achieve our goals of educating people about the history of this region and the importance of protecting the Schuylkill River,” said Zwikl. “By providing tourist and recreational information, we also hope to connect people to that history and to the beauty of the river, and at the same time increase regional tourism.”

Visitors to the center can learn about the role the river played throughout the Philadelphia Campaign, during the American Revolution. They can discover how crucial the Schuylkill Canal and the region’s factories, forges and coal mines were to the Industrial Revolution. And they can find out how the once heavily polluted Schuylkill was brought back from the brink of disaster during the Environmental Revolution.

In addition, interactive video monitors allow visitors to take virtual tours of sites related to the three revolutions, while a table with a relief map gives them a bird’s eye view of the entire Schuylkill River watershed.

“Projects like the Interpretive Center are emblematic of DCNR’s Heritage Area Program and its goals of strengthening our economy through tourism; creating strong partnerships; conserving cultural resources; linking significant natural, recreational, and historic sites; and educating visitors on the significance of the region’s history and resources,” said Giordano.  “Moreover, estimates show that Pennsylvania’s Heritage Area network generates over $1 billion in annual sales, supporting more than 30,000 jobs.”

The new interpretive center will one day be part of the planned Schuylkill River Academic and Heritage Center, which is being developed through a unique partnership between Montgomery County Community College and the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. That project involves renovating a currently unused portion of the College-owned 140 College Drive building, where the Heritage Area offices are housed.

When finished, the building will contain classrooms and a state-of-the-art laboratory that will support the College’s Environmental Science degree program and allow for joint programming between the Heritage Area focusing on recreation and river education. The River of Revolutions Interpretive Center is the latest addition to the Academic and Heritage Center. Over the past several years the college has renovated a parking lot that will serve the center and completed infrastructure improvements to the building.

The Interpretive Center project was led by Steel City Displays, in Malvern, and designed by Miller Designworks, of Phoenixville. It was funded in part by a grant from the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, and through the National Park Service, the George and Miriam Martin Foundation, National Penn Bancshares, Inc., and members of the Schuylkill River Greenway Association Board of Directors.

The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, managed by the  non-profit Schuylkill River Greenway Association, uses conservation, education, recreation, historic preservation and tourism as tools for community revitalization and economic development. Visit www.schuylkillriver.org to learn more.

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Photos by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor